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Monday, Mar-Cheshvan 29, 5781 / November 16, 2020


This week’s Parsha, Toldot, begins with Yitzchak and Rivkah praying for children. They were now married for 20 years, yet were not blessed with children. G-d answered their prayers and Rivkah gave birth to twins. "The first came forth ruddy, covered with hair like a hairy mantle and they called his name Aisav (Esau). After that came forth his brother, and his hand was holding unto Esau's heel; and he was named Yaakov (Jacob)."


The word used to describe Yitzchak's prayer in this Parsha is, "Vaye'etar". The usual expression for prayer is "Tefilah".  Why does the Torah use the word "Vaye'etar?"


The Talmud explains that, “Vaye'etar” comes from the word "Etar" - "shovel".  


"Rabbi Yitzchak said, 'Why are the prayers of the righteous people likened to a shovel? Just like a shovel turns the grain in the granary from one side to the other, so too, the prayer of the righteous turn G-d’s decree from the measure of restraint to the measure of mercy."


The three daily prayers are associated with our three patriarchs. The Shacharit (morning) prayer is related to Abraham; Mincha (afternoon) prayer with Yitzchak (Isaac); The Ma’ariv(evening) service is linked to Yaakov (Jacob).


The Shacharit service is recited before one begins the working day. We recite Ma’ariv after finishing our working day.  The Mincha service is recited in the afternoon, during work hours. 


The three prayers also represent the three different periods during a person's life. "Shacharit" represents a person's early years when one attends Yeshiva or Hebrew school. "Ma’ariv" represents a person's retirement years. During this time, one has the time to attend synagogue and become active in the Jewish community.


The Torah tells us that it is not enough to be involved during the early and later years. One must especially be extra careful with the "Mincha service". The "Mincha years," when we are busy working and doing business, when we are so preoccupied with our material and financial success, it is then that we must be extra careful and most important to be involved and remember our Jewish responsibilities to G-d, our family and our community.


Q.  Why were our forefathers called, Abraham; Yitzchak; Yaakov?


A. The nameAbraham means, “Father of a multitude of nations.”  Yitzchak means “laughter,” for the birth of Yitzchak, when Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90, brought laughter and joy. Yaakov, comes from the word “heel.” He was called so, as recorded in this Parsha, because at birth he held on to his twin brother’s heel.